Bracketology Bubble Watch: Minnesota, NC State look to avoid disappointing losses on Sunday
There are now three weeks exactly until Selection Sunday. Bubble teams need to make their push to the top of the bracket, and that usually requires picking up quality wins. For Sunday’s bubble teams, though, it’s all about avoiding getting another bad loss.
Auburn 53, Kentucky 80: Auburn is a home court hero, so a no-show performance at Kentucky is not unexpected. That does not make it a good thing. The Tigers are doing well in the metrics because of what they do on their home floor. They have won 12 games by an average of 25.5 points per game, and the only team to lose at Auburn by single digits is Murray State. The Tigers are not perfect at home, though. They have losses to UK and Mississippi State, but the metrics that rely on margin of victory are disguising the flaws in Auburn’s profile.
Ohio State 62, Maryland 72: The Buckeyes trailed most of the day and made a late run, but Maryland pulled away for the victory. Ohio State has how lost three of its last four games. The Buckeyes have four quadrant 1 wins on the road, but only one of those is against a likely tournament team.
TCU 75, Iowa St 72: You think the Horned Frogs didn’t miss Kouat Noi? He had 20 points and 13 rebounds in his return from injury to lead TCU to a win over Iowa State. The season sweep of the Cyclones accounts for the Frogs’ only two quadrant 1 wins. They don’t have any bad losses, though, and that needs to continue.
Wofford 72, Furman 64: Furman came up short of picking up the kind of win it needs to help its tournament case. The Paladins have a win at Villanova but played a poor schedule overall and in non-conference. It’s not over for Furman, but it cannot take another bad loss. Wofford, on the other hand, keeps on rolling. The Terriers are undefeated in Southern Conference play with two road games remaining.
Florida 64, Missouri 60: The Gators seemed to have a bit of a letdown after the huge win over LSU, but they came away with the win in the end. The next two are against the bottom two teams in the league. Those are must wins also.
Texas 67, Oklahoma 69: The Sooners jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead but had to hold off a late charge by Texas to escape with the win. Oklahoma has now won two in a row after breaking a five-game losing streak. The Sooners travel to what will surely be an angry Iowa State next. Texas was playing without its leading scorer, Kerwin Roach II, who was suspended but traveled with the team. The Longhorns dropped to 15-12 on the season and find themselves in the position of having to start stacking wins against a difficult finishing schedule
Clemson 76, Boston College 66: The Tigers broke a three-game losing streak with a win over BC at home. Clemson needs quality wins to make its case for selection to the field, but the Tigers play at Pitt next, so that will have to wait.
Alabama 68, Vanderbilt 61: The Crimson Tide beat the worst team left on their schedule to keep tournament hopes alive. Now, they have to travel to South Carolina, which has been much improved in conference play. LSU and Auburn are still on the schedule as well, but at home.
Seton Hall 70, St. John’s 78: Seton Hall couldn’t come through with what would have been a big win, and is now 16-11 on the season. The Pirates need a way to come up with some wins late in the season and that will not be easy. They finish at Georgetown and at home against Marquette and Villanova.
Georgetown 69, Creighton 82: The Hoyas are going to struggle to put together a tournament resume that makes up for a poor non-conference schedule. If they are going to do that, it starts by beating the teams that are not tournament contenders. This one got away from them.
VCU 85, George Washington 57: VCU is in command of the A-10 race and showed it again with a dominant performance over GW. That win is the lowest rated of the season for the Rams. They will be favored every time they take the floor in the regular season, which means nothing but potential bad losses.
Temple 84, Tulsa 73: The Owls avenged an earlier loss to Tulsa and are still in the hunt to make the tournament in coach Fran Dunphy’s final season. The season-ender with UCF could be huge, but only if they do the work they need to before then.
Utah State 78, Boise State 71 OT: I guess the Aggies could be looking ahead to Nevada already, but that would be a mistake. It was a struggle in Boise, but Utah State came away with the win. They have San Diego State next, which just beat Nevada next week and knocked off the Aggies earlier this season.
San Francisco 65, Santa Clara 68: The Dons took their worst loss of the season at the worst possible time. The path to an at-large bid is pretty much gone at this point.
Belmont 97, SIU-Edwardsville 75: Belmont has now won 11 straight and is on its way to a No. 1 seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. The Bruins are tied with Murray State and hold the tiebreaker. Their at-large case largely relies on wins over Lipscomb and the Racers, but that may not be enough.